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Situation 1

Player A1 pushes teammate A2 into an opponent who is thrown against the boards dangerously enough to warrant a boarding penalty. Which Team A player is assessed the penalty?

A1. Rule Reference 603(a).

Even though A2 actually made contact with his opponent, A1 provided the force and should be penalized provided A2 did nothing to create additional force causing the opponent to be thrown into the boards.

Situation 2

What degree of force is necessary in order to be considered to be “thrown” dangerously into the boards?

For USA Hockey youth games, the onus is on the player delivering the check to do so in a manner that does not place the opponent in danger. Rule Reference 603Note.

The purpose of a body check is to separate the opponent from the puck. Anytime a player delivers a check for the purpose of intimidating or punishing the opponent, and therefore causes the opponent to be driven excessively into the boards (uses the boards to punish the opponent), a boarding penalty must be assessed.

The degree of force with the boards is certainly subject to discretion and a more practical question may be “was the check necessary and/or what was the vulnerability of the player being checked”? For example, a boarding penalty may be assessed when a player was not necessarily hit that hard, but was in a vulnerable position when unnecessarily hit with a degree of force that caused them to be thrown into the boards excessively.

In contrast, a penalty may not be warranted when a player is hit much harder, but his preparedness for the hit causes him to go only mildly into the boards.

USA Hockey is not eliminating a good, hard and clean check. However, players must be aware of the situation when delivering a check and then held accountable for taking “liberties” and therefore endangering an opponent.

Situation 3

A player is skating behind an opponent as they head towards the end boards. At the bottom of end zone face-off circle, the trailing player trips the opponent and causes him to lose control and crash into the end boards. May a boarding penalty be called in this instance?

Yes. Rule Reference 603(a).

The boarding rule covers all potential illegal actions that causes an opponent to be thrown dangerously contact the boards. Even though a tripping penalty may also be appropriate, the boarding call is preferred to draw attention to the more aggressive infraction.

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